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What You Don’t Know About Air Quality

Most people don’t think much about the air quality of their home unless they have allergies or get a cold that makes it hard to breathe. In reality, everyone should be concerned about the indoor air quality of their house. After all, while some effects of breathing in pollutants will appear immediately, others take years to discover.

Worst-Case Scenario: What Can Happen

Although rare, if the air quality in your home is bad enough or a harmful pollutant is present, you may experience some side effects immediately. These can include irritation of the throat, eyes, and nose, along with fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. These will almost always be treatable and short term. You can just get rid of your exposure to the pollutant and the symptoms should go away. Long-term issues can be much more serious since you will not have taken action to correct exposure to the pollutant if you didn’t know it was there.

It is unlikely that your home’s air quality will be poor enough to cause serious problems. However, it can cause irritation or worsen symptoms of asthma, both of which are likely in the case of poor-quality air.

Irritants Likely to Be in Your Home

While most of the scary symptoms mentioned above will be caused by a serious contaminant, like a harmful chemical, there are milder irritants in most homes. These can cause irritation to eyes, nose, and throat, and worsen existing respiratory issues. Some of the most common irritants within the home include bacteria, pollen, and mold. In fact, the EPA estimates that 9 of every 10 homes have poor air quality.

Test Your Home for Harmful Contaminants

To be sure that your air quality is within a healthy range, consider doing a test. These are typically simple and will let you know if you need to invest in an air filter or another solution mentioned above. You should also invest in a carbon monoxide monitor, as this harmful substance affects everyone and isn’t noticeable until it becomes dangerous. You should also consider testing your home for radon, a colorless and odorless gas that can increase the risk of lung cancer.

How to Tell You Have Bad Air Quality

In addition to actually using a test, there are other hints you may have poor air quality in your home. If your allergies are flaring up or you develop unusual or new symptoms, this is a pretty good indication an irritant is present. Even something like regularly getting symptoms of pneumonia or bronchitis may be due to poor air in your home. Of course, you will need to rule out other potential causes before blaming the air. However, unusual symptoms may indicate that you should at least have the air tested.

Clean Your Home to Reduce Irritants

The most straightforward method of reducing these irritants in your home is to keep it clean. Sweep and vacuum regularly to get rid of dust particles, pet dander, pollen, and more. Always choose a vacuum that includes a HEPA filter for the best results. Mop afterward, as mopping will pick up leftover dust.

Indoor Air Filters Make a Difference

Air filters or purifiers are a great supplement to cleaning your home, eliminating the leftover irritants that you can’t get rid of with mopping or vacuuming. The traditional design will have a filter of some sort. The best models feature microfiber filtration with the ability to remove microscopic molecules. You can find units designed to maintain the air quality in a single room as well as those that can perform the same function for the average house. Just be sure to read the instructions and ratings for your chosen purifier to ensure it can properly clean the area you want it to.

The best air filters and purifiers will operate at all times and have an option for you to control them when necessary. This way, you can make sure the product is working extra hard to collect particles in the air following vacuuming or after someone with a dog comes over. While most indoor air purifiers use filters, some will use UV light to kill germs, viruses, and more. Most purifiers will have the added benefit of removing odors that are caused by the bacteria and particles the systems remove.

Maintaining the Proper Humidity Helps

Air quality is closely linked to humidity, more so than most North Shore residents realize. No matter where in the Chicago suburbs you live, you should aim to have your humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. This will help control mold, dust mites, and other allergens. You can help dehumidify your home by not overwatering plants, setting up your dryer so the vent is released outside, and opening a window when cooking or bathing. You should also fix leaks and consider a dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier can become necessary during the summer months, particularly with the extreme humidity in Northfield. Dehumidifiers work automatically to suck the extra moisture out of your home, bringing it to the recommended levels. In the winter months, the air in your home will likely require a humidifier. Remember that your airways and sinuses must be moist to reduce the risk of bacteria or viruses entering your body.

It's important to have clean air circulating throughout your home. To learn about how to improve the air quality in your home contact the experts at GV's Heating & Cooling.